Day Traders Diary



Stocks clawed their way back from early weakness on Thursday and managed to reach positive territory for the fifth session in a row. The S&P 500 (unch) and the Dow (unch) both posted new record closes thanks to a final push higher in the final minutes of the session. Meanwhile, the Nasdaq and the Russell 2000 underperformed, losing 0.3% and 0.2%, respectively. 

The S&P 500's technology sector declined by 0.4% on Thursday, with its largest component by market cap--Apple (AAPL 155.98, -3.78)--showing particular weakness. The company fell 2.4% following overnight reports that iPhone 8 orders are weaker than expected and the new Apple Watch is having cellular connection issues in China.

eBay (EBAY 37.29, -0.68) was another notable laggard within the tech space after the e-commerce company issued weak guidance for the fourth quarter; EBAY shares lost 1.8%. On a positive note, software giant Adobe Systems (ADBE 171.73, +18.73) surged 12.2%, hitting a fresh record high, after issuing above-consensus guidance for fiscal year 2018.

The consumer staples space (-0.6%) was the only sector to finish below technology on the day's leaderboard. Phillip Morris (PM 108.15, -4.36), the maker of cigarette brand Marlboro, was the sector's weakest component, tumbling 3.9%, after reporting disappointing profits and revenues for the third quarter and issuing below-consensus earnings guidance for fiscal year 2017.

Meanwhile, health care stocks rallied, extending their gains from the prior two sessions. Within the health care sector--which added 0.6%--Gilead Sciences (GILD 81.59, +1.58) showed particular strength (+2.0%) after the FDA approved the company's lymphoma therapy drug Yescarta.

Wireless giant Verizon (VZ 49.21, +0.56) finished with a gain of 1.2% after reporting upbeat earnings for the third quarter. However, the company's performance was somewhat disappointing considering it opened with a gain of around 3.0%. The lightly-weighted telecom services group added 0.5%.

Financial names finished mixed, leaving the S&P 500's financial sector (+0.2%) slightly higher. American Express (AXP 91.90, -0.18) and Travelers (TRV 133.17, +3.15) embodied the mixed theme; TRV shares climbed 2.4% on better-than-expected top and bottom lines while AXP shares lost 0.2% after announcing that CEO Kenneth Chenault will be stepping down after 16 years at the helm.

Transports finished slightly behind the broader market, evidenced by the Dow Jones Transportation Average (-0.1%), with United Continental (UAL 59.78, -8.21) pacing the modest retreat. The airline plunged 12.1% after disappointing guidance overshadowed its better-than-expected earnings.

In the bond market, U.S. Treasuries advanced on Thursday, but intraday selling pressured the market off its morning high. The benchmark 10-yr yield slipped two basis points to 2.32% after trading as high as 2.35% in overnight action. Meanwhile, the U.S. Dollar Index dropped 0.3% to 93.02.

Also of note, Politico reported in the late afternoon that Fed Governor Jerome Powell is the leading candidate to become the next Fed Chair. President Trump is expected to make his decision before he leaves for an 11-day trip to Asia on November 3.

Reviewing Thursday's economic data, which included the weekly Initial Claims Report, the Philadelphia Fed Index for October, and the Conference Board Leading Economic Index for September:

  • The latest weekly initial jobless claims count totaled 222,000 while the consensus expected a reading of 236,000. Today's tally was below the revised prior week count of 244,000 (from 243,000). As for continuing claims, they declined to 1.888 million from the revised count of 1.904 million (from 1.889 million).
    • The key takeaway from this report, which saw some disruptions in claims taking procedures in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, is that the low level of claims should translate into some lofty nonfarm payroll expectations for October since this report covered the week in which the household survey was conducted.
  • The Philadelphia Fed Survey for October rose to 27.9 from an unrevised 23.8 in September while economists polled by had expected a reading of 20.0.
    • The key takeaway from the report is that the monthly increase was led by gains in labor market indicators, with the current employment index increasing 24 points to a record-high reading of 30.6.
  • The Conference Board Leading Economic Index decreased 0.2% in September, while economists polled by expected an increase of 0.1%. The prior month's increase was left unrevised at 0.4%.
    • The key takeaway from the report is that the downturn had hurricane fingerprints on it with key negative contributions from initial claims, building permits, and the average workweek.

On Friday, investors will receive just one economic report--September Existing Homes Sales ( consensus 5.29 million)--which will be released at 10:00 ET.

  • Nasdaq Composite +22.7% YTD
  • Dow Jones Industrial Average +17.2% YTD
  • S&P 500 +14.4% YTD
  • Russell 2000 +10.7% YTD

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